By Paul Maynard
Profiles in Professorship is a new SCAD Myriad column that aims to shine a spotlight on the various professors that teach eLearning courses. With varied teaching styles and backgrounds, every professor brings something unique to their elearning approach.
In this interview, Paul Maynard speaks with professor S. Maureen Burke of the Art History department and gets an in depth view of the professor’s thoughts.
Myriad: What department do you associate yourself with and what classes do you normally instruct?
Burke: Art History and I usually teach Survey of Western Art I and II
Myriad: Please tell us of any personal heroes, artists/professionals/family/friends, whom you admire and why.
Burke: In Savannah, I was honored to become friends and work with the late Civil Rights leader and museum founder, W. W. Law, one of the country’s great men. I admire a very eclectic range of artists – from anonymous medieval illuminators and fresco painters to Renaissance masters to contemporary artists like Bill Viola whose installation “Crossings” I premiered, and Fred Wilson, with whom I spoke in a round-table panel in New York a couple of months ago.
Myriad: Please let us know about the myriad of careers paths available to students in your program of study as well as some personal advisement.
Burke: Education – teaching, museum education
Museums, auction houses and galleries (positions ranging from curatorial to exhibit designers and graphic artists)
Art criticism/art writing/media
Myriad: Could you also enlighten us about your personal aesthetics of art (with some examples of personal works that you are proud of?
Burke: I regard art as a horizon, something that permits people to take a new view or conceive of new possibilities or a place that is removed from everyday matters. Achievement in the visual arts is one of the highest human aspirations and creates a legacy for the future or a way of understanding and appreciating the past.
Myriad: Please share your thoughts on what you consider to be the characteristics of a successful student. How would one convey their thirst for hard work and knowledge? As a professor, how would you encourage you students to strive for improvement?
Burke: The students who do the best in the classes are the ones who are deeply engaged. They participate in the class discussions beyond the required posts, answer other students or ask questions in their posts, add a link to an interesting article or video or exhibition that is pertinent, possibly share a personal experience of art or a personal perspective or a photograph, add occasional images to their posts, do some background research that they add. If they have questions or some problem affecting their classwork, they shouldn’t hesitate to email or contact their professor.
Often good for a longer online assignment such as a major discussion post or essay question on an exam to write your draft in Word and do your spell-check there – then paste it into the course site (there is a mash up tab just above the discussion box to the left you can use to attach Word text). That way if you somehow lose it technically in the system, you can replace it easily without losing your work.
The students who get the most out of their classes are the ones who are actually online the most, reading the other students’ posts or course units, writing responses.
Consider contacting your professor early (before the quarter begins) to find out about the textbook or course requirements if you have a busy schedule at the beginning.
If you have a disability of some type, contact the counseling department and let your professor know of any special needs.
Watch out for connectivity problems, and have an alternative lined up in case you lose service. Usually a local library has public computers if you don’t have access to campus computers. There is a new Blackboard app for smart phones you might consider getting. It’s best to have a hard wire connection for exams and course submissions. Firefox is the recommended browser. Don’t have too many windows open at one time, and sometimes if you have problems, log into the system again. Let your professor know if you lose your Internet service.
Myriad: In your opinion, what would be the main differences and similarities between a live class and an elearning one?
Burke: SCAD online courses are designed to cover the same material as the campus courses, and are often taught by the same faculty members. The pace is a little different, since the requirements are on a weekly basis and involve writing your discussions rather than answering questions in class. The quizzes and exams are more like open book exams, rather than slide identification and memorized factual material.
Myriad: What would be some advantages to the elearning environment? What are some tools that students can use to cope with the “disconnect” they may feel by not having face-to-face contact?
Burke: Online courses are more flexible in their structure. You don’t have to be in a classroom at a set time, but can schedule your classwork on your own time around other commitments—as long as you click on the course website and turn in your assignments on time.
Some of the pressure is off students, since the exams are basically open book exams where you can research your answers in the textbook or other references. Having extra time and not having to memorize so much will often let you focus more on the artwork and broader concepts about the art movements, styles, and artists.
Students often enjoy seeing the range of different perspectives on the artwork, that come from other students who will also have other majors. The different assignments such as presentations often permit you to learn from another student’s choices, opinions, research and examples.
Online courses are often opportunities to express your ideas about art, share you perspectives and experiences, learn to analyze artwork, and become comfortable with communicating your ideas.
Each class is a learning community – get to know your classmates through their introductions and discussions. Often you will be in other classes with them, either online or on campus. The exchanges in the discussions are a good chance to get a sense of others. There is a class dynamic that develops across a quarter that will inform you and that you contribute to.
If you have questions, be sure to ask your professor or see how your fellow students are approaching a topic. In addition to email, there are weekly office hours, and sometimes you can set up private conferences via email, Connect meeting room, or IM. Some faculty members will review your project or written assignment before you have to turn it in officially. If you feel isolated, be sure and participate on the discussion boards, even if you are just writing short comments. That way you are in dialogue with your fellow students and share the experience more.